Thursday, June 14, 2007

Now they call me Infidel... the title of a 2006 book by Nonie Darwish. Is Islam the "peaceful religion", as Pres. Geo. Bush called it in the aftermath of 9/11? Darwish, a former Muslim, who was raised in Egypt, the daughter of a "shahid" -- a jihadist martyr -- says no.

Her father was a high-ranking, and highly respected Egyptian military officer who was assassinated by a package bomb. It was July 11, 1956. Nonie was eight. Her life changed in that instant. She lost the love and protection of the man who mattered most to her: her father. That he was lionized as a “shahid,” i.e. a martyr for jihad, was cold comfort.

Nonie spent the rest of her life trying to understand the hatred that motivates the generations-old conflict in the Middle East. As the daughter of a “shahid,” Nonie and her family enjoyed some privileges. Educated by British Catholic nuns in Cairo, and on graduation working as a journalist’s translator, she decided that hatred came from Islam itself, not the peaceful and uplifting Islam she loved, but the Islam that preached hatred and war against Jews and Christians, and marginalized women via cultural, legal, and marital traditions.

In the aftermath of 9/11 she was mortified at the celebrations in the Arabic world, and the deafening silence by so-called “moderate Muslims” who should have spoken out against the atrocity.

In response, she wrote Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror (2006). She went another step and founded With great courage, Nonie speaks around the world and calls Muslims to account for their attitudes and actions. Herself a Christian, and a Republican and a lover of all things American as only someone who emigrated from a closed, often oppressive society at thirty could be, she often meets with hostility and slander from fellow Arabs, but remains undeterred. Her aim is simple: peace for all the world’s peoples, whatever their religious faith.

Quote: “Reject hate, embrace love. Bring out the best in Islam by showing your compassion, gratitude and forgiveness. Make the holy land truly holy by giving Israel and the Jewish people the respect they deserve in their tiny little country. This is not a crisis over land. It is a crisis of the soul; a crisis in our faith, judgement and self confidence. Israel should not be regarded as an enemy, but as a blessing to our neighborhood. We need not fear peace, but embrace it.”

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